514 impaired drivers light up DUI Tree during Holiday Parties enforcement

December 20, 2019 - Statewide Traffic Safety - New Year’s Eve enforcement period begins Dec. 27

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and statewide law enforcement agencies recently wrapped up the Holiday Parties heightened DUI enforcement as part of The Heat Is On campaign to keep Coloradans safe from impaired drivers. During the 10-day enforcement period, 514 impaired drivers were arrested, a decrease from the 727 arrests made during this enforcement period last year.

As part of this year’s Holiday Parties DUI enforcement, CDOT is displaying the DUI Tree — a 3D holiday tree decorated with 100+ large white holiday lights — at the Denver Pavilions until Jan. 4. For every 10 DUIs reported during the enforcement period, a white bulb was replaced on the tree with a red or blue bulb to represent police lights. Signs accompanied the tree with the message, “You Choose — Holiday Lights or Police Lights.”  See photos of the DUI Tree here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/p86dg9nza6lyigm/AACXQ95qCs0y5rVVN5KO8yc9a?dl=0

“Law enforcement officers were able to take hundreds of impaired drivers off of Colorado roads during the Holiday Parties enforcement period, and may have saved lives by doing so,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of CDOT. “Impaired drivers put everyone else on the road at risk, and CDOT will continue to address this issue to help curb traffic fatalities in 2020. Drive sober every time you get behind the wheel. Your life and the lives of others depend on it.”

The Holiday Parties DUI enforcement included 95 statewide agencies. The Denver Police Department (52 arrests), Colorado Springs Police Department (40 arrests) and Loveland Police Department (27 arrests) reported the highest arrest totals. CSP recorded 106 arrests. To access CDOT’s The Heat Is On arrest database for every enforcement period, visit bit.ly/HIOarrests. Arrest data can be sorted by law enforcement agency, county and enforcement period.

“CSP and participating law enforcement agencies did their best to keep impaired drivers off of roads, as seen by the police lights on the DUI Tree,” said Matthew Packard, Chief of CSP. "Removing impaired drivers from Colorado roadways means everyone has a better chance of making it to their destinations safely."

During December, first-time users of the ONUS app get a $10 credit on Lyft or Uber to get Coloradans home safely. The promotion is part of Safe Streets Month and users can secure the $10 ride credit by downloading the ONUS app on their smartphones.

Along with the severe risks impaired drivers present to themselves and other motorists, a DUI arrest can include severe legal and financial consequences. First-time DUI offenders can be punished with up to one year in jail, license suspension and thousands of dollars in fines. On average, a DUI can cost more than $13,500 after considering fines, legal fees and increased insurance costs. Penalties increase for repeat offenders.

In addition, 98 agencies participated in the Thanksgiving Weekend enforcement period and arrested 420 impaired drivers. The Denver Police Department (45 arrests), El Paso Police Department (42 arrests) and Colorado Springs Police Department (41 arrests) recorded the highest arrest totals. CSP made 44 arrests. The arrest total is a decrease from the 593 arrests made during the same enforcement last year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA), 2019 is the first year that zero fatalities were reported during the Thanksgiving holiday reporting period. The fatality reporting period is a five- to six-day timeframe around Thanksgiving each year. This year, that reporting period occurred from Nov. 27 to Dec. 2.

The Heat Is On will return for the New Year’s Eve enforcement period from Dec. 27 to Jan. 2.

The Heat is On enforcement periods and DUI-prevention campaign support CDOT’s Whole System—Whole Safety initiative to reduce traffic injuries and deaths. Last year, there were 209 passenger vehicle fatalities on Colorado roads involving impaired drivers, accounting for more than one-third of all traffic fatalities in 2018. A complete list of arrests can be found at codot.gov/safety/traffic-safety-reporting-portal.


The CDOT Highway Safety Office provides funding to Colorado law enforcement for impaired driving enforcement, education and awareness campaigns. The Heat Is On campaign runs throughout the year, with 16 specific high-visibility impaired driving enforcement periods centered on national holidays and large public events. Enforcement periods can include sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and additional law enforcement on duty dedicated to impaired driving enforcement. Find more details about the campaign, including impaired driving enforcement plans, arrest totals and safety tips at HeatIsOnColorado.com.



In early 2019, CDOT announced its Whole System—Whole Safety initiative to heighten safety awareness. This initiative takes a systematic, statewide approach to safety combining the benefits of CDOT’s programs that address driving behaviors, our built environment and the organization's operations. The goal is to improve the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving the safety of all transportation modes. The program has one simple mission — to get everyone home safely.


CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees located at its Denver headquarters and in regional offices throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated interregional express service. Governor Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s intermodal mobility options.